Building Transformative Relationships: Entrepreneurs Summit at WhartonǀSan Francisco

By Nadine Kavanaugh, Associate Director, Wharton Entrepreneurship

WhartonǀSan Francisco and Wharton Entrepreneurship co-hosted a very successful Entrepreneurs Summit last week, connecting entrepreneurs with investors and talent in the Bay Area. Relationships are at the heart of every entrepreneurial endeavor, and this summit gave entrepreneurs a chance to learn more about the importance of relationships—and to build some new ones.

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Heidi Roizen, Operating Partner at DFJ and Chair of the Entrepreneurs Summit, framed the day with her keynote address about building transformative relationships, and she expounded further on this idea with a panel she moderated which included Ann Winblad, Co-founder and Managing Director of Hummer Winblad Venture Partners and Karen White, President and COO of Addepar. Together, they talked about their perspectives on building one’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and discussed the importance—and impact—of leading with one’s humanity, making oneself easy to help, and how to establish trust.

Three panels—on early stage, growth stage, and industry leaders—let participants make these essential human connections with others interested in the same point of development. The panel focusing on the early stage included Joseph Ansanelli (W’92), serial entrepreneur and Partner at Greylock, and Davis Smith (WG’11/G’11), serial entrepreneur and Founder and CEO of Cotapaxi, who shared their experiences building successful companies, navigating through difficult times, and their thoughts about building teams and company culture. Panelists on the growth stage included Mark Gainey, Co-founder and CEO of Strava, who responded to questions raised about navigating explosive growth and who shared a fascinating pair of ideas concerning having a “no” list and tuning out the “noise of opportunity.” Difficult to do when so much opportunity exists!

Finally, the industry leaders panel included Fred Reid, Founding CEO of Virgin America, Dan Rosensweig, President and CEO of Chegg, and Doug Tomlinson (WG’99), CEO of VinoVolo. Each shared candid remarks about leading remarkable companies—the ups and downs and, along the lines of the conference theme of building transformative relationships, how their own mentor relationships impacted their personal growth, self-awareness, and leadership skills.

We at Wharton Entrepreneurship are proud to have co-hosted this terrific summit, which brought together so many members of the entrepreneurial community from the Bay Area and beyond. May startups, investments, partnerships, mentorships, and more crucial human connections come from this event—and from more such summits in the future.